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When I was 14, a friend and I were going for a walk, minding our own business and happened to walk near a construction site. We weren’t even on the same side of the street but many of the men stopped what they were doing just to yell and whistle at us. It made me feel: embarrassed, frightened, confused, what did we do? It was the first time that I really encountered being treated differently in public and how it and many other incidents have made my wary and vigilant whenever I’m at any public forum, which is ridiculous to expect from women and even young girls. Other forms of harassment haven’t been on the street like this, but rather come from co-workers and from other situations, but all have contributed to my embattled mental state when dealing with male strangers. *sigh* I feel lame writing this from my current 26 year-old-self, but I don’t think girls should have to deal with that.
This is a story about my experience one day while living in Buffalo, NY. It’s one of many examples of how women experience street harassment every day.
A few years back I lived in Buffalo, NY for a time. One sunny, breezy, and beauteous summer afternoon, I decided to ride my bicycle over to Delaware Park. I had the day off and wanted to get out in the sunshine and enjoy myself for a little while. I was thoroughly enjoying my leisurely ride around the pond when a Mr. I-wear-sleeveless-tops-and-drink-protein-shakes type passed me on his bike and made a direct kissy noise at me. Needless to say I was skeeved and annoyed but continued on my ride anyways.
A few minutes later I see the same douche bag riding toward me on the trail once again. And once again, he made the creepy kissy noises at me. I thought “Ok.. seriously douche, this has to be the last time you will do this seeing as how I had absolutely no reaction to you.” Well I should have known that I was wrong. This happened twice more before I got too mad and bothered to stay there. So I road my bicycle home. I was pissed. How dare this f*cking douche bag make me feel uncomfortable – so uncomfortable that I choose to end my leisurely bike ride on a beautiful sunny day because I didn’t want to pass him again and hear him make those disgusting kissy noises at me. I should be able to go somewhere by myself and not fear or be bothered by douche bags like this.
Fuming, I made my way home, enjoying the ride that was luckily douche bag free. Or so I thought. I had reached my street, and was riding down the center of the road about a block from my apartment. I saw a little boy of about seven standing on the sidewalk ahead of me. As I rode past him he screamed “Hey! I lost my teddy bear, can I sleep with you?” Which was then also followed up by “Nice ass.” This boy was seven. Seven years old and already harassing women on the street. I will admit that I chuckled a little to myself, just because it was such a cheesy line. But seriously. I was street harassed by a seven year old. What the f*ck.
You don’t have to be conventionally “pretty” or “thin” to be harassed on the street, Basically the only qualification you need is to have a vagina. My friends and I would talk about it quite frequently. They were also harassed constantly while walking around Buffalo. Seeing as how Buffalo is a fairly urban area, I noticed that I was harassed much more often than, say, my home town. Men would say the most derogatory things to my friends and me. All the time. It was just like they had free reign to make women feel as uncomfortable and skeeved out as possible. And what could we do? Talk back sometimes, yes, but often times that would just fuel the fire and make it even worse. However, I came to realize that expressing your distaste with the way you’re treated is better than flat out ignoring it. Women shouldn’t feel silenced and intimidated on the streets. So ladies, next time some low life treats you like a piece of meat on the street, holla back at him and let him know that it is NOT acceptable.
F*ck street harassment and f*ck any society that accepts it as standard behavior.
I was walking back to my apartment after my internship on a Monday. I had already had a rough day and had just gotten off the phone with my mom. It was a little after 5pm and there were people everywhere. I was looking down for a second to hang up my phone when I looked up and saw an older man’s face right in mine. I felt his arm across my stomach and his hand slowly start to move up to my chest as he said, “hey baby.” I kept walking and was hoping someone was going to do something, maybe not do anything to him, but at least ask if I was okay. There were a lot of people around and not one person asked if I was alright. I felt so violated and immediately started crying and continued to walk home.
I’m only 15 and I look older than I am apparently I look about 20 because I am tall and mature for my age but I get beeped at all the time I hate it I get men shouting out there cars at me and whistling its not a compliment. I’ve also on 2 occasions had men leaning out there window beckoning me over but the worst one was in school but when he saw my outside of school it happened too. He would shout at my “oi oi sexy” and put his arm round me and ask my for hugs and snogs and one incident was when he saw me walking to class and he started singing pretty women and once I got to my class room after him almost running to keep up with me he shouted at me “let me lick you up and down sexy babe.” Hated it every time someone tapped my shoulder or something I’d jump out my skin and always be looking around to make sure he wasn’t there thankfully he left school and I haven’t seen him since but it shouldn’t be happening that wasn’t so bad compared to what other people get but it affecting me a lot it need to stop.
As I was walking to school around 9:30am yesterday morning (Thursday, October 28), I passed two men sitting in a car parked alongside the curb.(They looked to be in their 30′s.) As I passed them, they yelled “Hey!” from the parked car. I turned and looked behind me because I was startled, but realized I was just being cat-called as usual so I ignored them and continued walking.
Suddenly the two men pulled the car away from the curb and pulled up next to me me, driving slowly alongside me as I walked. They started shouting to me from the car “Excuse me, Miss! Can you please spare a moment of your time?”
I continued walking for a minute, trying to ignore them, but they were still following me, so I turned as I was walking and said in a clearly threatening tone, “What’s up?” The man who was driving asked me “What’s your name?”
“I don’t have time for this. Fuck off!” I replied.
“Yes, FUCK OFF!” I yelled.
“Well fuck you, too, bitch!” They shouted. “I hope you have a SHITTY ass day you fat-ass bitch!” and sped away up the street, cursing and flipping me off.
I know I shouldn’t have said anything, but I just didn’t know what else to do. I was completely alone. There was no one around to help me. It seemed pointless to call 9-1-1 because they wouldn’t have been able to get to me in time, and I was afraid if the men saw I had a smart phone they would get out of the car and try to rob me or worse. I wish I could feel proud of myself for telling them to leave me alone, but instead I’m just thankful that they didn’t get out of the car and hurt me or kidnap me.
While waiting for my fiancee to exit a retail establishment, I was standing on the sidewalk at this intersection somewhat a ways back from the street and close to the entrance of a residential building. It was nighttime and dark out, although the area seemed safe.
A man approached to enter the building and told me how pretty I was making the entrance area appear. I’m ashamed to admit that I snapped at him and told him “that’s a rude thing to say.” I’m ashamed because he was paying a compliment, but even though he said it in a nice tone his intentions to hit on me were very clear. That’s why I snapped.
I feel very conflicted about the encounter. On one hand I did not desire this man’s attention and it was not appropriate for him to just come out and say this especially to a lone female at night. However, he said it in a nice way and was, at the end of the day, complimenting me and there was no tone of contempt there as there would be with a catcaller or harasser.
I just want to cleanse myself from this encounter by releasing it out into the world, and saying “I’m sorry” to this gentleman, for snapping at him, but also I’m not sorry because you should not hit on a lone woman at night in passing, no matter how pretty she is making your building entrance look. It’s unwanted attention you’re paying to her, whether it’s with the best of intentions or not.
Thank you for listening.
To the man at the bus stop,
I guess I don’t know how to say, “please leave me alone” in a way that you will understand. Please stop talking to me.
“If it weren’t sacred – your relationship – would you go to dinner with me?”
No. I will not go to dinner with you. It’s not because my relationship is sacred – and it is – but that doesn’t prevent me from going to dinner with people. What prevents me from going to dinner with you is that I’m not interested.
“Not interested? How can you say that? You don’t even know me.”
Well, sir, I guess I’m not that interested in getting to know you. Because you opened this conversation by asking me how pretty I think I am. And then, while looking my body up and down, you told me how much you thought I was worth. A dollar amount. As if I could be bought. As if I would be more willing to go to dinner knowing you think I’m worth more than a car. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Would you rather go to dinner with me or do drugs? Would you rather kiss me or take a drag off a cigarette? Your boyfriend doesn’t love you, you know.”
Neither. None of those. Because your options are not real options. Because that is not the reality of the situation. Because you don’t decide what my options are. And because when you got up in my face like that and started yelling, I almost hit you and yelled back, but you aren’t even worth that. You aren’t even worth eye contact.
When you left, I felt sick with relief. But I still feel sick – with disgust – because you exist out there and you talk to women like they’re sh*t. So f*ck you, you delusional f*ck.
- The kind of girl you’ll never have
I was walking with two of my friends down SoHo and we were into deep conversation about something, definitely not paying attention to our surroundings and the people in the street with us. Suddenly, we notice a man walking in our direction, rudely about to walk through us. As he was getting closer, we realized that he was determined to not change his direction and walk around us so naturally we let him walk in between us. Suddenly he creepily mumbles to us “Eat each others’ pussies…” We all looked at each other like “What did this guy just say?” We were all in shock that this just came out of his mouth. We all look back at him and he was, surely enough, looking back at us, winking. It was a very disturbing experience. And it scares me that this guy thought it was totally okay to say this to us. I don’t know what he expected to get out of saying that, but I can only imagine all of the other disturbing things he’s said to other girls.
I was walking with my friends and an old man pulls on my arm, trying to talk to me. I said immediately after, in an angered tone, “Please don’t touch me.” He then started following me and my friends for two blocks in which we preceded to walk faster. I was shocked to think that this man would have the audacity to assault me with the police less than 20 feet away, I was even more shocked that the cops did nothing about it.
I was on my way home from picking up Chinese food on 134th street. I tried to cut the corner because everyday men young and old stand outside of Popeyes talking to and eyeing every girl who passes by. I passed by a silver Escalade waiting at the traffic light and the man in the passenger side said “psst, can I talk to you.” I rushed by, hearing his words, but ignoring them. Everyday I find myself listening to music so I can avoid the catcalls from men old enough to be my father.